Just one decade ago, every facelift patient was kept as a hospital inpatient for a minimum of one to three nights with “drains” in place. Drains are rubber or plastic tubes designed to divert excess blood and tissue fluids and prevent the formation of a blood collection (i.e., hematoma) under the skin. Scientific data are controversial how effectively the presence of drains prevents a hematoma formation as they were observed even in the presence of drains.
Today, some cosmetic surgeons use advanced procedures and technologies that allow the effective avoidance of drains after facelifts. Other plastic surgeons still advocate the routine use of these devices. If used, drains are usually kept in place for a minimum of one day.
The care for drains varies; some surgeons will send you home with these tubes in place and you will receive instructions on how to empty them yourself. Other facelift doctors have their patients stay routinely in the hospital for as long as these drains are deemed necessary.
Ask your plastic surgeon about his experience with drains and if he uses them. If draining tubes are used, you want to ask how long they usually stay in place. Also, you may ask about the rate of hematoma formation your doctor sees in his own patients.